If You Want to be Happy, Practice Compassion. – The Dalai Lama

I would like to thank those who’ve read my blog recently, and especially those who’ve had such kind words for me.  The fact that people have read my story is very healing on some level.  I have been so angry over the past year, in large part because everyone seems to expect me to suffer in silence; buck up; chin up; whatever.  It’s crappy enough that my career is teetering on the edge of disaster, but to be expected to paste on a smile and make small talk about the weather at bar events and in courthouse hallways seems to me to be manifestly unfair.

I’ve known several people who have been diagnosed with cancer.  The one universal thing they tell me is that they hate it when people either fawn all over them (ohhhh, you poooor, poooor dear, what can we dooooo?) or pretend like nothing is happening.  What has happened to me is not cancer and I don’t mean to insult anyone who’s ever had it, but I have come to understand that sentiment.  I’m not sure if this is something that is unique to the practice of law or if it’s business in general.  Personally I think people going through hell should be able to talk about it within reason without being labelled a kook or a flake. 

I have been feeling better lately, which is probably why I haven’t been posting as often.  I have returned to my meditation practice, something I did in the past but had let slide during the past few years.  I have accepted a couple of pro bono cases because I would rather keep busy and I believe in compassion.  After all of this, I believe in compassion.  I have a job, and I recognize that a lot of people don’t, or are worse off in other ways.  Still, I haven’t gotten a new assignment in months and that is very worrisome.  My clients assure me that they are all with me but things are slow.  I hear rumors that things are slow everywhere, but it is hard to confirm that because lawyers like to talk about how busy they are.   

Maybe I just won’t make it in private practice.  I was a very young partner when my firm fell apart, and I didn’t have a huge book to begin with.  Maybe the economic collapse coupled with the high profile death of my old firm is too much.  There are always lawyers who take a downward path.  You watch them over a period of five or six years go from partner at one firm to senior associate or counsel at another; then maybe they hang out a shingle; then a year or so later they go to a captive.  Or they just disappear and you have to assume that they’ve moved away or left the practice of law entirely.  That seems like a fate worse than death to me.  I don’t want to be the topic of a “whatever happened to” conversation five years from now.   I’m afraid that I am on that path.  I know I am a better lawyer than the lawyers I have seen do that before, but it all comes down to business, doesn’t it?  So I don’t know.

I’m having lunch with the managing partner this Friday.  I hope that it will be a constructive meeting.  One thing I will say about my new firm: you know what you are getting with these people.  They are interested in the bottom line.  They will be perfectly polite about it, but you know what it is they want and what is going to happen if you don’t deliver.  I’m glad because at least I know where I stand.  I would choose this any day over a group of people who come to your house for parties and ask about your children and give you Christmas gifts while they’re plotting to screw you.  I think I’m even beginning to let go of that anger, though.  I got a pleading on Friday from one of my former partners involved in the increasingly nasty post-firm break up litigation and I didn’t even melt down when I read it. 

So, we will see how things go.  Thank you again for your kindnesses.  It means and meant a great deal to me.  I am going to try to pay it forward.

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5 Responses to If You Want to be Happy, Practice Compassion. – The Dalai Lama

  1. Wow! Sounds like you have been through a lot. I’m sorry to hear about the rat-b@stards at your former firm. For what it is worth, and I’m not sure this is applicable or you care to get assvice from strangers, but if you are not in a secondary market, consider that. Much less dog-eat-man, lower cost of living, and firms that at least pretend to care. Email me if you ever want to talk.

  2. Pingback: Blawg Review #281 « An Associate's Mind

  3. smblackford says:

    Dear Isolde,

    I wish you inner strength and serenity.
    This is a very difficult time in a very difficult profession. Glad you are meditating again. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Practice compassion for yourself. Please reach out to people who can be present for you.

    A couple of resource ideas for you:
    1. ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs (CoLAP) here for finding a Lawyers Assistance Program – confidential support from lawyers helping lawyers–nearby. http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/colap/

    2. Also, for finding a Practice Management Assistance Program – confidential help with the business of law practice management– See link here: http://www.abanet.org/dch/committee.cfm?com=EP024000 – I am an attorney and PMA in Oregon- let me know if I can help. Best, Sheila

  4. TY Long says:

    Hi Isolde!

    Please soldier on! It’s easier said than done and I know from personal experience. But, you must! The world needs more attorneys like you and far fewer who are like your old partners and mine.

    My last law firm went out of biz because the main partner was embezzling and stealing from clients and the other name partners pretended not to know about it. When I lost that job, I felt like I lost everything, including me. And, to top it off, my personal life went right into the crapper at the same time. But, my friends and family supported me with kind words, shoulders to cry on (I’ve cried an ocean of tears the last 2 years), home-cooked meals, laughs, etc. And, I started my own firm thanks to former clients and friends from law school who have referred business to me. With each passing day, with all that has happened to me, I realize I am truly blessed. And, so are you!

    This too shall pass! You will continue to survive this bump in the road. And, in the history of your life, professional and otherwise, that’s all this is. Don’t let the bitterness consume you. Continue to practice the profession you love and let the Universe take care of the rest. And, tell that ‘friendly’ Sallie Mae rep to stop calling you at work. Once you ask, they must comply! Otherwise, he is in violation of the law!

    I wish you nothing but the best! Hang in there! The world really needs you!

  5. Ben Kim says:

    Hey Isolde,

    Thank you. So much.

    Another truth seeker

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